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17470: (Hermantin) Miami Herald-Ex-Haitian army officer is arrested (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Thu, Nov. 27, 2003
Ex-Haitian army officer is arrested
Another former Haitian military officer accused of human rights violations
is arrested in South Florida by immigration agents.
BY ALFONSO CHARDY
Federal immigration agents swooped down on an apartment in Homestead before
sunrise Wednesday to arrest Jean Claude Simeon, a former lieutenant in the
Haitian army allegedly involved in the military coup that overthrew Haitian
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.
The 5:45 a.m. arrest in the 200 block of Northeast 13th Street, near
downtown Homestead, raised to more than 50 the number of foreign torture
suspects arrested by immigration agents as part of the ''persecutor
program'' launched nationwide in 2000. Most of the arrests have occurred in
Simeon is the highest-ranking former Haitian military officer to be arrested
as a torture suspect since former Army Col. Frantz Douby was picked up in
downtown Miami Aug. 26 in connection with a Haitian arrest warrant stemming
from his alleged role in a 1994 massacre in Haiti.
The arrests reflect an ongoing strategy by the federal immigration service
in Florida to detain and deport former officers who were involved in the
coup and subsequent violence against civilians and Aristide supporters.
Ana Santiago, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman in Miami,
confirmed the arrest but had no details.
According to a federal official familiar with Wednesday's arrest, Simeon
arrived in the United States through Miami International Airport carrying a
tourist visa in October 1996.
Simeon was supposed to leave the country in April 1997 but stayed and asked
for political asylum. The request was denied and Simeon was ordered deported
by an immigration judge. Simeon appealed the decision but in 2000 the Board
of Immigration Appeals denied his petition.
Simeon, arrested as he left his residence, was detained as a result of an
order from supervisors at the recently created human rights violators unit
of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, D.C., the federal
According to the official, Simeon's immigration file contains evidence that
he was a ''human rights abuser'' during his 29 years in the Haitian
military. The highest rank he reached was lieutenant, and during the 1991
coup he was posted at the national palace in Port-au-Prince.
The official said he did not have details on precisely what type of abuses
Simeon allegedly committed or exactly what his role was in the coup.
Ira Kurzban, a prominent Miami immigration attorney, said he was familiar
with Simeon's background. Kurzban called Simeon ''one of the bad guys''
implicated in the coup and efforts to prevent restoration of democracy in
''The arrest is a demonstration of the type of positive cooperation that the
United States can have with Haiti,'' Kurzban said. ``Our hope is that the
U.S. will support the democratically elected government in Haiti.''
Kurzban is also an attorney for the Haitian government and has participated
in investigations of human rights abuses by that country's military.
Though U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994, relations between the
two countries have deteriorated as the political confrontation in Haiti
between Aristide supporters and foes has become more violent
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